Oklahoma, which has won the past two Women’s College World Series and is the heavy favorite to do it again this season, was awarded the No. 1 seed in the 2023 NCAA softball tournament on Sunday.

The Sooners easily dispatched Texas on Saturday to capture the Big 12 championship and move to 51-1 on the season, and there was no question who would get the No. 1 overall seed when the regional seeds were announced Sunday.

The real drama with Sunday’s tournament announcement was whether there’s anyone in the 64-team crowd capable of elbowing Oklahoma off the throne.

UCLA, which earned a win over Oklahoma in last year’s World Series, captured the No. 2 overall seed. After that, four teams that stunned in last year’s regionals (Florida State, Tennessee, Alabama and Washington) earned high seeds in 2023.

Florida State earned the No. 3 seed, followed by No. 4 Tennessee, No. 5 Alabama, No. 6 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Washington and No. 8 Duke to round out the top half of the seeds.

“The committee had to look for a lot of really good teams with good résumés, especially for the top eight,” selection committee chair Kelly Gatwood said on the selection show. “We really had to dig in and look for the top 10 wins that would help set us apart.”

Oklahoma will host Hofstra in its opener this weekend, with Missouri and Cal joining them in the Norman regional. If the Sooners win en route to a third straight title, they would set the NCAA mark for winning percentage.

“We have a very balanced lineup and a balanced team,” Sooners coach Patty Gasso said during the selection program. “It’s consistency, determination, hard work, clutch, all those things you need in the postseason.”

Oklahoma’s lone loss came on February 18 at Baylor when the Bears scored four runs in the third inning and escaped with a 4–3 victory. It’s the only loss Oklahoma has suffered since last year’s World Series, when the Sooners fell to UCLA 7-3 before reeling off three straight dominant victories by a combined score of 41-6 to take home their second straight title.

Oklahoma leads the nation with a 0.86 team ERA. Only 10 other teams are within a full run of that mark. The Sooners also lead the country in batting average (.368), on-base percentage (.463) and scoring (423 runs) and are second in home runs (94), trailing Virginia Tech by just three despite playing four games. less.

Oklahoma has five players with double-digit home runs this season, led by Jayda Coleman’s 14. Coleman and infielder Tiare Jennings have an on-base percentage above .500, while the Sooners’ rotation of Nicole May, Alex Storako and Jordy Bahl have each won 15 or more games.

This year’s Bruins might be the best bet to knock Oklahoma from its perch at the top of the sport. UCLA is led by Maya Brady, the niece of retired NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who hit .458 on the season with 18 home runs and 59 RBIs.

UCLA will host the Grand Canyon in its opener, with San Diego State and Liberty also in the Bruins regional.

Last year’s regionals came with plenty of drama as five unseeded teams advanced. Among the biggest upsets was the loss of No. 2 seed Florida State. The Seminoles are looking for revenge this year, registering as the No. 3 seed, but they’ll have their work cut out for them with nearby UCF and red-hot South Carolina also in the Tallahassee region, along with Marist.

Perhaps no team comes with more mystery than fifth seed Alabama. The Crimson Tide fell in the SEC semifinals on Friday, but still earned a high selection committee position. More troubling, however, is the health of star Montana Fouts, who left the Tide’s quarterfinal victory over Arkansas with a leg injury. His status for the regional is unknown.

“We focused on the team sheet, what they’ve done throughout the season and the results on the field,” Gatwood said. “We don’t always know the information about injuries, so we try to stay focused on the teams.”

The remaining seeds belong to No. 9 Stanford, No. 10 LSU, No. 11 Arkansas, No. 12 Northwestern, No. 13 Texas, No. 14 Georgia, No. 15 Utah and No. 16 Clemson.

The SEC led the way with five teams in the top 16 and 12 in the field. The Pac-12 had four seeded teams, while the Big 12 and ACC each had three.

Regionals begin May 19 and Super Regionals are scheduled for May 25-28. The Women’s College World Series begins June 1 in Oklahoma City, with the finals June 7-9.


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